REVIEWS – NEW MUSIC
There’s a bumper crop of serious sounds with FM, Palm Reader and Dopethrone leading the charge.
We review and rate the latest music from Tribulation, YDI and Morass of Molasses.
But if you like your rock a little more melodic we deliver our verdict on Kiske/Somerville (pictured), Peterik/Scherer and Impellitteri.
There’s new music from Prolong The Agony and Teenage Bottlerocket.
And we check out Native Construct and Abiotic.
Every Sunday we reveal the RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK. And we round up the very BEST OF THE REST.
RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK
Genre: Melodic Rock
With four albums and four EPs to their name since 2009 it’s fair to say FM aren’t hanging around given a second bite of the rock n roll cherry. Quantity could easily overshadow quality but rarely has their music sounded so sweet.
Heroes And Villains is the band’s best album since 1989’s Tough It Out – perhaps their best ever. Mixing Def Leppard-like riffs and layered vocal harmonies with Steve Overland’s bluesy tones makes for a quite remarkable show of melodic force.
Widely playlisted opener Digging Up The Dirt relies on a ridiculously catchy chorus before You’re The Best Thing About Me ups the ante with its bold production and powerful emotion. Cold Hearted first appeared on 2014’s Futurama EP but it’s testimony to the strength of the material here that a live favourite only features seven songs in.
Twelve years in the wilderness preceded the most prolific period in FM’s career but the break has worked wonders for a true national treasure. If rock still spawned radio hits then Heroes And Villains boasts at least five. Buy it. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Heroes Never Die
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Hard Rock/Metal
Teaming up a singer called Rock with one of the fastest shredders in the world must have seemed like a no brainer back in the late 80s. And even now Impellitteri boast a polished metal sound that’s hard to beat.
Venom sees Rob Rock and Chris Impellitteri evoke memories of 1988’s full-length debut Stand In Line without ever replicating that much-vaunted masterpiece. Benefiting from the superior production techniques available almost three decades down the line, the duo have honed their craft to such a degree that this urgent record sounds like a blueprint for modern hard rock.
John Dette (ex-Testament and Slayer) ensures there’s no danger that Impellitteri might go soft with a display of frenzied drumming and there are some genuinely heavy moments that will thrill the most demanding metal fan.
Of the 10 tracks here the title track and Nightmare are the pick – clocking in at around 35 minutes, Venom is a rollercoaster ride to shred heaven with the main man faster and more furious than ever. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Imp-ressive
Fate has thrown together so many musical dream teams but every so often a brand new partnership proves the gods of rock are still looking out for those devotees of a genre that refuses to die.
Ex-Survivor man Jim Peterik chanced upon current collaborator Marc Scherer during a studio session in Chicago and wasted no time in developing a working relationship that finally spawned Risk Everything.
In fact the album title couldn’t be further from the truth: if ever there was a sure thing in the music business then it has to be an album featuring one of AOR’s finest songwriters and a supremely confident singer boasting a five-octave range.
Class is writ large across Risk Everything with the Styx-influenced Thee Cresecendo, Cold Blooded and the momentous How Long Is A Moment suggesting this is a team built to last. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Scherer Class
Genre: Melodic Rock/Pop Metal
If there was one thing lacking on 2010’s self-titled Kiske/Somerville debut then it was a natural cohesion. A stunning album still warranted a RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 review and yet, in places, it was polished to the point of missing that all-important creative spark.
City Of Heroes proves Michael Kiske and Amanda Somerville have become much more comfortable in each other’s company: their vocal jousts boast a greater sense of ambition and the duo have gone from playing it safe to playing it for real.
The production values remain predictably high but both singers wring every last drop of emotion from pop metal classics Breaking Neptune, Walk On Water and the Celtic-influenced ballad Ocean Of Tears.
Five years in the making, City Of Heroes has been well worth the wait. As side projects go this is something special. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 City Limits
Anyone mourning the recent demise of In Solitude should be thankful that in Tribulation, there’s a band still flying the flag for dark, melodic and exhilarating Swedish metal. On The Children Of The Night, the quartet have largely cast off their death metal shackles to deliver an album which puts great songwriting right to the fore.
Tracks like The Motherhood of God and In The Dreams Of The Dead are both chilling and catchy, soaked in a vintage metal marinade of Iron Maiden, Mercyful Fate et al. However, the Swedish black metal of Dissection and Watain also makes its presence felt too, and Johannes Andersson’s caustic vocals ensure that there’s a serrated edge to the entire album.
What’s so heartening about the Swedes third opus is that it flows in a way seldom heard in the digital download, quick fix era: The Children Of The Night begs to be heard in its majestic entirety… and preferably experienced via a turntable, rather than an iPod.
Mature, focused and brilliantly executed, this record should resonate with anyone who has metal flowing through their veins. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8.5/10 Growing Up
Genre: Doom/Sludge Metal
With a monicker shared with an Electric Wizard album and songs called Scum Fuck Blues and Riff Dealer, it’s fair to assume that Dopethrone peddle some seriously weighty product. And if you’re looking for filthy, scuzzy biker doom, Hochelaga, the Montréal mob’s fourth full length, should be your drug of choice.
Yes, it sounds a hell of a lot like ‘the Wizard’ but tracks like Vagabong are more Hells Angel hoedowns than occult rituals, and if Peter Fonda’s Wyatt had longer, greasier hair and wore a bullet belt, Hochelaga could have been the soundtrack to his easy ride across the States.
Put simply, the Canadians have kicked up a sludge storm here, an album so monstrously heavy it will liquify your ear drums and pound your speakers into dust. It’s not clever, it’s not particularly original, but it is hugely enjoyable…. and more than a little addictive. Turn Hochelaga up to 11 and breathe it in…Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Smokin’ Hot
Genre: Hardcore Punk
Featuring demo material, 1983’s A Place In The Sun EP and 1985’s Black Dust album, this compilation gives a new lease of life to YDI’s work. The Philadelphia hardcore crew were never seen in the same light as their more famous contemporaries (Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Black Flag etc) and didn’t hit any particular songwriting heights.
However, although their earlier material was basic to see the least, Black Dust at least showed the band had evolved considerably since they spat out the likes of Zombie Youth and Not Shit back in ’83.
For that album is an altogether heavier and darker affair, and while still inflected with plenty of hardcore aggro, tracks like My Hell and Bloodletting show a more polished side to the band… and far superior axework from Mike Cole.
All in all though, A Place In The Sun/Black Dust is more of a package for hardcore historians and completists, than a collection of rare gems. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5.5/10 Dusted Off
Genre: Stoner Rock/Sludge
Listen to Morass of Molasses and at first you’d think that they’d crawled out of the Louisiana bayou, rather than Reading. As you’d perhaps expect from a band bearing their particular name, their sound is heavily inspired by the NOLA scene, taking in sludge, blues and Southern rock… and hints at a few late night sessions listening to Kyuss too (especially on Ashtabula).
There are some mighty riffs on show (Fear To Tread opens with an absolute monster), but what lets the trio’s first EP down are the vocals. They’re either too low in the mix or on Bear River, just too damn weak. Singer ‘Bones The Beard’ needs to take a few lessons from John Garcia or Phil Anselmo.
That said, So Flows Our Fate has some decent moments, blending hazy melodies with ten tonne power chords on Rotten Teeth to powerful effect.
Let’s see what a full debut album brings…Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 Swamp Thing
All We Are is an instantly thunderous, hard hitting, thought provoking EP – the sort that you don’t expect but when it happens you can’t think of anything else you’d rather have.
A look at the song titles tells you what to expect from the album, with names such as Backstabbers, Loved and Lost and Dead Dreams. It reveals an emotional honesty that you wouldn’t usually associate with men in general, never mind a hardcore band. There’s a message in this EP, and more than a little bit of soul searching.
‘It’s okay to feel dead inside,’ Larry Welling screams on Dead Dreams – but when you listen to All We Are you feel anything but dead inside. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Agony Is Ecstasy
Genre: Pop Rock/Pop Punk
Pop/rock/punk is well and truly alive in the hearts and minds of Teenage Bottlerocket and the songs of Tales From Wyoming. Edging more towards the punk rock scene, Tales From Wymoing sounds like something All Time Low could have produced before hordes of screaming teenage fans sunk their pubescent claws into the band.
The album was recorded by Bill Stevenson, who worked with Rise Against, Descendents, Akaline Trio and Hot Water Music – so the sound shouldn’t come as a great surprise.
Like all good albums of the genre, Teenage Bottlerocket tackle many of the great issues facing youngsters today from the mundane (I’ve Found The One) to the serious (Can’t Quit You).
Bullshit is just a fun expression of anger and distrust at, well, bullshitters and I Wanna Die is a punk rock song from the Pennywise mould that hits hard and fast before disappearing.
Punk pop may have changed since the days of Yellowcard and Pennywise but Teenage Bottlerocket are flying the flag for all its worth. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Rocket Fuel
Two years might be a long time in between releasing a debut album and finishing a follow up, but when that first record led to rave reviews and several sessions with Radio 1 in the Maida Vale Studios, you could be forgiven for taking the time to get the second one right.
Beside The Ones We Love is a stark contrast to Bad Weather, Palm Reader’s well-received debut, which was recorded in only three weeks.
This is a more carefully crafted effort, but it hasn’t lost any of the energy or rawness that made Bad Weather the success that it was.
Lead singer Josh McKeown wilfully explains that there is no thought-out lyrical connection between the songs, this was just an album that happened as organically as possible. The songs sound different from each other, yes, but not in a disjointed manner.
Stacks has pace and energy, with a chorus that calls out to the listener and drags them into the song kicking and screaming while Sing Out, Survivor is a slower, angrier song that builds towards an inescapable crescendo.
To celebrate the launch of the album, Palm Reader are doing five gigs in one day, just to push their boundaries. Beside The Ones We Love might not push any boundaries, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t set the bar high for their third album. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Palm Sunday
Genre: Death Metal
Abiotic’s second full length sees the Florida boys pick up from where they left off in 2012, when they unleashed their technically mesmerising debut, Symbiosis, on an unsuspecting death metal scene.
This time around, their playing is even sharper and Casuistry is laced with incredible solos from both John Matos and Matt Mendez. The imagination and musical ambition of early Floridian outfits like Cynic and Atheist certainly makes its presence felt, and bassist Alex Vazquez’s fretwork brings to mind DM game changers like Tony Choy and Steve DiGiorgio: never a bad thing.
There’s also a weightier groove to proceedings, especially on tracks like Cast into the Depths. And there is more focus too: Violent Scriptures, for instance, is razor sharp.
But like its predecessor, Casuistry does get over complicated at times… the curse of Abiotic’s virtuoso musicianship it seems.
However, if you’re keen to experience contemporary death metal, delivered by a spirited, forward thinking act, look no further than this opus. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Biowarfare
Genre: Progressive Metal/Experimental
Slam metal, prog rock, classical music, jazz, musical theatre, electronica and more together and you have the sonic explosion that is Quiet World. It’s a complex, multi-hued debut which needs repeated listens to make sense of, if you ever do.
Come Hell or Higher Water glows with the kind of ambition exhibited by Between The Buried And Me, and also displays extreme metal leanings in common with that legendary act, while The Spark of the Archron boasts a scorching right hook of a riff.
Meanwhile, vocalist Robert Edens carries Quiet World’s melodies off with aplomb… and his bandmates can certainly a play a little.
However, there are so many ideas thrown into the mix here that it threatens to overwhelm the listener ; it’s as if Native Construct discovered the best equipped school music room in the world and were given completely free reign by an over-enthusiastic teacher. Given that the band were formed from students at the famous Berklee College of Music in Boston, that’s probably not far from the truth.
With more focused songwriting, this opus could have been glorious – as it stands, it might be a little unhinged for all but the most hardened proggers. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5.5/10 Construction Project
I’m a journalist specialising in sport and rock music. Can’t play either so I write about them instead.